Free meal program reaches out to at-risk children

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A group of Indianapolis residents are making it their mission to feed young mouths, despite dangerous surroundings.

One in every four Indianapolis children - about 62,000 kids - goes hungry. Marybeth Hanley spends all day making sure those children get something to eat. She delivers free breakfast and lunches to children who may not have food at home.

"You can see that they really look forward to you and sometimes they go without food over the whole weekend," Hanley said.

So when she shows up, the kids are hungry and the van coolers are packed with free food. As an added bonus, summer camp kids, like six-year-old Nailah Lange, are learning to eat healthy.

"The reason why it is healthy for you, because it's a kind of fruit and vegetable," Lange said.

Eyewitness News first met Hanley last week, delivering meals to kids in Fountain Square. That same day, those same children watched as 37-year-old Jimmy Fesler was shot and killed at their apartment complex.

That type of violence doesn't scare Hanley away.

"In situations that our mobile unit have encountered, they are always appreciative of us," she said.

In some cases, Hanley waits under a park shelter with the meals, but sometimes the rain keeps families away. But the food doesn't go to waste.

"Most of the food is able to go into a refrigerator at different locations. Some locations have large refrigerators, some have smaller," said Andrew Stephens, Indy Parks.

In most cases, Hanley gives away all the free meals and that's okay, if it means fewer kids go hungry.